Saturday, January 24, 2015

Growing Pains: Did She Just Really Say That?

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Noah's been on a growth spurt lately.  Which caused him to essentially outgrow his power wheelchair insert chair that also sits on a traditional zippie base for speech therapy with an i2i headrest.  I noticed that it was leaving marks underneath Noah's arms and that he was very uncomfortable and upset while sitting in that particular seating device.   Medicaid on that molded chair allows for revisions or new molds for three years without asking them again for approval.  Wish that all his equipment needs had the same kind of policy with growth. 

In any event it made us make the long drive to have his molded Aspen seat modified.  Luckily he didn't need a completely new mold but rather padding changes and lengthening for his legs and height adjustments for his shoulder straps, we also took in his toilet seat for adjustments which was great too (as they share the same mold).   Noah sometimes gets bored at these appointments as there is a bit of wait time while they work on it, so he walked up and down the hallways with his daddy to keep him busy.  There is no way I could attend one of these appointments by myself.  Noah would be screaming after the first five minutes.   His dad is my only hope of getting through long appointments and a long drive.  Those two are best friends forever and dad has a knack for keeping Noah happy.

The appointment went a little bit quicker than we expected but we still would have been stuck in rush hour traffic, something that frustrates Noah tremendously while traveling.  So we opted to go across the street and have dinner and then try for home.  We chose Texas Roadhouse (his daddy's favorite).   Because of Noah's wheelchair we need to always sit at a table and most are generally in the back at that restaurant.   Noah demands to eat promptly upon arriving at any restaurant even before anyone else can even place an order.   Which means we must pack his meal, and then order him desert. 

Noah was into his first few bites of food when the hostess was going to seat another party next to our table.  It was another couple, however once the woman seen Noah she told the hostess rather loudly that she couldn't sit next to "him" pointing at Noah and that they needed to sit on the opposite side of the restaurant.   What is that disability segregation at it's finest?   Part of me was hurt, (how can I not be no matter how many times mean things like that in public happen?), and part of me was really pissed.  For a moment I wanted to publicly shame her on her behavior and call her out in front of everyone for her incredibly rude way of thinking and acting.  But that would have only created a scene and the woman would have learned nothing from it.  Once a person has that mindset, you cannot change it.  They will remain forever ignorant. 
Even worse, Noah looked on confused as he understands words and conversations.  People don't fully realize that Noah understands what you say and your actions.   And at six years old he is beginning to realize how some people perceive him in this world.  Painful for him, even more painful for us that I cannot guard him against it.

I remained internally devastated, I ate my salad but I couldn't taste it.  I went about eating mechanically like a robot going through the motions.  Noah's face smeared with food which is how he typically eats.  It's a bit messy.   I watched others watch us.  Wondering how many people felt the same way that woman did but lacked the guts to actually say it. 

Another party was soon seated in that couple's place.  A family with a single child around Noah's age - a boy.    My already wounded self felt like I stroking my personal pity party.   There sat a child Noah's age doing all the things Noah can't do... blah... blah... blah...  dig the sword deeper I said to myself...

Until that little boy spoke to his parents and shifted my thinking completely around.   I overheard him ask his parents why Noah was in a wheelchair.   They replied they didn't know but that they could tell that he was a sweet little boy that would make a great friend.    That family having zero clue what transpired only ten minutes earlier was teaching their child to love those different from himself.  

And so be it the lesson was mine, for that little boy wouldn't have had the opportunity to see Noah, to grow, to learn to love and see someone like Noah had that woman not misbehaved and booked it for a different section of the restaurant.  And in the end it's a new generation that holds so much hope in changing how we treat and perceive others with disabilities. 

Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.